Director Daniel Newell Kaufman says of this short twenlve minute film, “All Luke and his mom have are two garbage bags full of clothes, and two tickets out of town on the midnight Greyhound. Like he’s assembling a puzzle, Luke has to figure out the why of it – all before the person they’re running from puts together the pieces. RUNON is a short film that is a cinematic run-on sentence, done as one rambling handheld take…about a pair of run-on people: nomads trying to escape their very nature.”
Director Kaufman is also the writer, director and editor of the film. He discusses the inspiration for the film in an interview before the cancelled SXSW 2020 Film Festival in Austin.
My step father died and I found myself under the same roof as my mother for the first time in years. While she’s a wonderful, loving, totally different person than the character in the film, I was nonetheless struck by our shared sense of transience in that moment, despite her being more than twice my age. I was humbled by our deep feeling of being unmoored; of wanting to break free of the pain that we carried, but not knowing how to step out of the closed loop of grief. I wrote what became an ode to those feelings set in an environment defined by that same transience, one I knew far too well: a greyhound bus station, that distinctly American fluorescent limbo.
After trying and failing to find financing, I decided to invest my own money that I’d made as a commercial director. Ultimately this liberated the whole process. I wasn’t beholden to anyone and could make whatever movie I wanted. Many of the people involved were previous collaborators from my commercial work, but the cast came together through pure chance. Erin, the mother, I cold emailed after seeing her in a TV show. Mike, the father, I met at a comedy show (he was sitting next to me in the crowd). And Luke, the star of the film, I met at a Thai restaurant in rural upstate New York. His father bred horses and he’d never acted before. But he was deeply intuitive and took to it naturally.
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The boy in the film – Luke – has no acting experience at all. Pretty hard to believe. The right person for the role. He is so many boys trying to figure the mysterious world out. The camera shot from his perspective, handheld, following him in one long, continuous shot. The Mens Room in the bus station at midnight offers a strange place and time for him and the filmmakers create one of the most intense scenes in modern film. It reminds in some ways of a scene from Apocalypse Now. Such a journey for Luke in the bathroom at midnight. Shot in much lowered F-stops on purpose by the filmmakers, Luke plays a masterful part.
Erin Markey is a “hilariously sociopathic” (NYT) Brooklyn based performer, musician and writer/creator of live performance works. Markey frequently plays Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. Their shows have toured nationally and internationally to ART (Cambridge, MA), The Yard Theater (London, UK), FringeArts (Philadelphia, PA), Luminato Festival (Toronto, ON), PICA’s TBA Festival (Portland, OR), Fierce Festival (Birmingham, UK), Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX), San Francisco Film Society and more. Markey’s most recent music/theater works include Boner Killer (2017), A Ride On The Irish Cream (2016) and Singlet (2018). Catch Erin this season on HBO’s High Maintenance and TruTV’s At Home with Amy Sedaris.
Adam Newport Berra, the cinematographer on Runon, is one of the great emerging cinematographers of our time. He has worked in all areas of cinematography: music videos, documentaries, independent films, commercials and shorts like Runon. He is not another television commercial creator but one of the best. Look at Berra’s examples on his own site and judge for yourself. For example, here is a 30-second spot from Berra for a … just watch it. It’s not one of the best short commercial spots I’ve seen in a long time. Serious creativity at work in this short mood piece. Check out Adam’s site, Google his name.
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At the end of an interview (from SXSW 2020 that never happened), Adam is asked one of those end of the interview questions. The question: What is your favorite short film of all time? He answers with a fourteen-minute film Gasman that was made in 1998. We’ve watched the film. View it on our post.